New spaces for supporting entrepreneurship? Co-working spaces in the Welsh entrepreneurial landscape
International Conference for Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Regional Development
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Co-working is a broad term that has been rapidly expanding in recent years. The term refers to the practice of working “alongside each other” in a flexible and shared office environment where desks can be rented on a different basis and where like-minded professionals form a community. In recent years co-working spaces have been successfully developed in cities such as London and New York to encourage collaboration, creativity, idea sharing, mentoring, networking, socializing and generating new business opportunities (as well as keeping costs to a minimum level) for small firms, start-up companies and freelancers who typically lack the resources of large organizations. However, co-working spaces are relatively new in South Wales and not well established yet. Little is known about how these spaces actually work to support the entrepreneurial activities of their member businesses, what potentials they might have to support graduate entrepreneurship and to what extent they can be considered as policy interventions in the Welsh context. In this paper, the underlying idea is that co-working spaces can support member businesses in their development processes by helping them to build networks and create synergies through collaboration in a creative work environment. The main aim of the paper is to provide an empirical illustration of how co-working spaces can stimulate the soft aspect of entrepreneurship (e.g. collaboration, interaction and networking) that support the activities of their members in South Wales. Employing a combined methodology of secondary data gathering, site visits and semi-structured interviews along with questionnaire survey, the paper evaluates two Welsh co-working space models. The results imply that the selected spaces represent different configurations in terms of community support, organizational purpose and target audience. However, both models provide favourable environment for business to flourish.
Fuzi, A., Clifton, N. & Loudon, G.H. (2015) ‘New spaces for supporting entrepreneurship? Co-working spaces in the Welsh entrepreneurial landscape’, Proceedings of the 8th International Conference of entrepreneurship, innovation and regional development, Sheffield, UK, June 18-19. pp. 309-318
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